If you have a few followers on social media, you can be sure that any picture you post of any interesting car will earn some kind of reaction from at least a few people. Then, just occasionally, you get an avalanche.
My most recent was when I posted a picture of this 1987 BMW M5 parked in a field on a wet day. It may look like just another three-box saloon, but there is so much love for it that even I, an E28 fan since day one, was surprised by the response.
To me, and I guess, to them, its visual ordinariness lies at the heart of its appeal. Actually, Ian Sutton’s superb car seen here (number 185 of 187 right-hand-drive cars built) is in the minority of first-generation M5s having the M-Technic bodykit from the far less powerful M535i. Without it, you’d need to be spotting alloy wheels, badges, a slightly deeper front spoiler and body-coloured wing mirrors to tell the difference.
But different it was. Priced north of £30,000 at launch, it cost more than half as much again as the more sporty-looking M535i, but what you were buying was not so much a souped-up 5 Series, but an ultra-low- volume, highly specialised four-door supercar built not on the line with all the other 5 Series variants, but by hand by BMW Motorsport.
Most obviously, it had the twin cam, 24-valve 3.5-litre engine first used in the M1, albeit with different pistons, rods and management. Today, 282bhp might not seem like much, but when this car came out, it was more than you’d find under the engine cover of the Ferrari 328 GTB.
But there was far more to the original M5 than that: it had a close-ratio Getrag gearbox and bespoke suspension geometry, shock absorbers, rollbars and spring rates. There were bigger brakes, those beautiful 16in wheels (for the UK market) and chunkier tyres, too.
Inside, it was even harder to tell the difference: there’s an M-Technic wheel, an M-badge where the fuel economy gauge should be in the rev counter and more on the heavily bolstered sports seats. Look really closely and you’ll notice the speedometer reads up to 170mph instead of the usual 160mph, but it lacks even the red needles or oil temperature gauge of its contemporary, the E30 M3. At the time, the M5 seemed pretty understated, but in today’s world where a car’s kudos in the sports car market appears defined by the amount of aerodynamic addenda it wears, it seems very nearly invisible.